Association Congress

Monday, 10 October 2011

You scratch my back and I’ll turn mine

A couple of things have happened to me recently after I’ve spoken for free, and at very short notice at two events, one for Forum Events and one for the ICCA and it made me wonder; do all event organisers take speakers for granted? It kind of felt like it at both events. Being an organiser myself, and guilty of as many crimes against speakers as those two offending organisations, it was clear to me that I had taken speakers for granted in the past. But I don’t think I do now; I try to add value for them at my events. And trying I think is at least a start.
Shouldn’t everyone receive the value from conferences?
I am sure you agree that our meetings have to offer as much value as possible to those who attend, exhibit and sponsor, but shouldn’t it also add value to our speakers too? Aren’t they possibly the most important part? Shouldn’t we be going out of our way to add value to them? What would happen if everyone just stopped speaking at conferences? Oh, the carnage!
Ten things you probably should ask your speakers
1.       What would you like us to do so support your session / how can we ensure you get the most out of speaking for us?
2.       Can we pay you? – As an organiser you pay for food don’t you and the venue, should you expect people to speak for free?
3.       Can we use social media to continue your discussion with delegates after the event?
4.       Can we use social media to start your conversation with delegates before the event? Perhaps through Twitter or a Blog?
5.       Can we send information on your behalf which you think will be of interest to delegates pre / post event?
6.       Can we provide you with some truly useful feedback on your session that helps you improve as a speaker?
7.       Can we offer you a free training course for you to hone your skills?
8.       What’s your address, we’d like to send you a gift to say thanks?
9.       Have we made it clear what are the objectives of the session we would like you to address?
10.   Do you know as much about our audience as you would like?
It makes sense to close the loop. And also, you pay for what you get
I find it bizarre that a speaker would receive glowing feedback, and the organisation wouldn’t even consider paying for the speaker to speak again. I also find it weird that loads of organisations are happy for a speaker to fill a slot for them, stand in front of their audience and give them the floor, but they wouldn’t forward on some information about the topic they covered. Is this really the symbiotic relationship organisers should have with their speakers? If it is, fellow organiser, you might just find the good speakers body swerve your event and speak at the ones who ask at least some of the questions above.

1 comment:

  1. Where angels fear to tread Willie, good for you. Isn't this all based on a combination of events organisers seeking to maximize profits (more fool the speakers if they don't ask for recompense), on the size of ego of those that are invited, and how good natured people tend to be (they like to be asked and don't like to say "no". Of course many value a platform to get a message over (especially government/ngo's) and of course some people cannot accept payment, whilst many will be being paid for that day's work anyway. Can you have some corporate speaker being paid whilst a government official with 10 times the knowledge, motivation and relevance to the event cannot accept payment? Qs 9 and 10 on your list are fundamental.